We all hate to think it. And I hate to even bring it up. But, it's starting to look as if the Dallas Cowboys could be preparing themselves for life without one of the best players to ever wear the star on his helmet, Jason Witten. Unfortunately, the writing looks to be on the wall and the fan favorite tight end could possibly be looking at a lesser offensive role in 2017.
Now, don't get me wrong. I'm not ready to move on from Jason Witten or anything like that, and I'm not sure the Dallas Cowboys are either. If they were they wouldn't have extended his contract during the off-season. But, Witten is surrounded by a lot of really good skill players and he's reaching that age where athletes start to break down physically.
Jason Witten of course could be an exception to the rule. He may have lost a slight step, but he is still as talented and rocksteady as they come in the NFL. In fact, he has only missed one game in his entire career with the Dallas Cowboys. I can't express enough how impressive that is. But, change seems to come when we least expect it and I think it could happen as soon as this season.
The playmakers the Cowboys currently have on their roster is arguably the best they've had at their disposal ever. Unfortunately, there are just so many balls to go around in the passing game and Jason Witten could find himself on the short end of the stick.
Dez Bryant is the healthiest he has been over the past several years and is looking to become the dominant WR he was before the nagging injuries started to plague him. Cole Beasley has mastered the art of getting open out of the slot and has become a security blanket for Dak Prescott, something Witten has excelled at throughout his career.
I fully expect Bryant and Beasley to receive the majority of the targets in 2017, which leaves Witten, Terrance Williams, and Brice Butler fighting over the scraps. Of course, part of those scraps will go to Ezekiel Elliott, who could be involved more in the passing game and Ryan Switzer, who could possibly threaten Witten's role the most.
So, you can easily see how Jason Witten could have a lesser offensive role with the Cowboys as early as this season. There are just too many mouths to feed and the possibilities of what offensive coordinator Scott Linehan can do with all of these playmakers is unfathomable.
Witten of course will continue do go about his business no matter what role he has. But, if they decide to spread things out more in 2017, Witten could be looking at less and less opportunities in the receiving game. Fortunately though, his importance to the team is undeniable no matter what role he plays.
Statistics say that Jason Witten is the second best tight end to ever play in the NFL, but his importance to the Dallas Cowboys goes way beyond stats. He may be the “old man” of the team now, but the amount of respect his teammates have for him is undeniable. When there is a need for leadership, I wouldn't be surprised if he was the first person they all turn to.